Every day, businesses relocate, prospects change jobs and households move. When any of these events occur, an address change also occurs. As a result, most mailing lists contain a significant amount of data with bad addresses. The United States Postal Service (USPS) estimates that around 8% of all mail is undeliverable because of incorrect addresses.
In other words, the data contained in your mailing lists is becoming less and less accurate all the time, whether you know it or not. Regardless of how large your mailing list is or how often you plan to use it, it is essential that you maintain as clean a list as possible.
What makes a list clean?
A clean list is free of duplicate, incomplete, or otherwise undeliverable entries.
Why should you make sure your data is clean?
- Reduce your costs. Postage and printing charges for any direct mail campaign are calculated by the piece. Whenever you send mail to undeliverable addresses, the printing and postage for those pieces are completely wasted. For a single piece, the cost is relatively small, but the wasted charges add up quickly if a significant portion of your list is bad. These charges can easily total thousands of dollars per mailer on a large list.
- Improve your chances of success. The single most important factor determining the success or failure of your direct mail campaign is the quality of the list. If your list is in bad shape and your contacts are not receiving your mailers, the quality of your mailer doesn‚Äôt matter. When you ship a piece of direct mail to a bad address, you have totally missed out on any chance with that prospect. Clean data provides you with maximum opportunity for a successful campaign.
How can you clean your mailing list?
Below are a few simple things you can do to improve the quality of your lists:
- Review your lists and make any necessary adjustments following each campaign.
- Run a sort and remove duplicate entries.
- Review all entries for completeness and remove incomplete ones.
- Conduct a thorough annual review of your list.
Additionally, the USPS does not want to process undeliverable mail. It creates unnecessary work, so they have developed tools to help ensure direct mail campaigns contain as few errors as possible.
- The USPS compiles national change-of-address data in its NCOALink product. This database contains all permanent change-of-address records going back four years. By running your data through the NCOALink system, you will ensure you have the most updated addresses that the USPS does.
- Many mail houses have their own systems to purge and clean your data. In order to ensure consistent quality across all of these systems, the USPS has developed the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) certification process to test system accuracy. The USPS constantly updates the process, and continued certification requires annual testing. Its benefits include maximum mail deliverability and reduced postage rates.
By making sure your data is clean, you can save thousands of dollars in waste and greatly improve the success of your next direct mail campaign.
2. CASS Certification Requirements: A Mailers Guide